The meeting of the Election Commission on Tuesday to decide the possible dates to hold assembly polls in J&K remained inconclusive. The poll panel will now approach legal experts on the issue of Presidents Rule in the state. In the meeting, the EC discussed the stand of the Governor’s administration, which wants the election to be held sometime in November. The state administration doesn’t want assembly polls in the near future in view of the ongoing tourist season and the upcoming Amarnath Yatra in the Valley, which will begin on July 1. The centre is also against early Assembly polls.
Earlier too, both state and central governments opposed the idea of concurrent assembly polls and the Lok Sabha polls. That time, the reason offered was the deteriorating security situation in the state. But at the April 26 meeting with with J&K officials, the EC rejected the assertion of state officials that the situation needs to be assessed before conducting the assembly election. Certainly if Lok Sabha polls have been held without an incident, the Assembly election too could be held. But the centre and the state governments somehow don’t want early Assembly polls. Ironically, the reasons offered to defer Assembly election to November – Amarnath yatra and tourism season – also would have favoured simultaneous holding of Lok Sabha and Assembly elections rather than conducting them one after another.
But the reality is that the EC remains undecided about holding Assembly polls. This despite the fact that all J&K political parties had unanimously batted for them. The J&K people would have also preferred simultaneous polls for reasons of the sheer amount of disruption the elections trigger in a conflict-ridden state. But the EC chose to ignore both politicians and the public. It is difficult to see why. Apparently there seems no reason or rationale for the EC to defer the Assembly polls. If the deteriorating security situation was the reason, the elections have been held in the state in even worse conditions. If the state government could hold as grassroots-centric an exercise as Panchayat and urban local bodies polls without any surge in violence and that too in as troubled an area as South Kashmir, there was no reason why Assembly elections could not have been held.
Ideally, the Assembly elections should be held in right earnest after the Parliament polls. By doing this the EC would be responding to the public demand. And not doing so will only further deepen the sense of alienation among the people. Here’s thus hoping that the EC finally does the right thing by announcing the dates for the Assembly polls in its next meeting.